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iboard: Crossing the Water

What it is: Crossing the Water is a great logic game for the interactive whiteboard that encourages problem solving as students try to get a family across the water safely.  Teachers can set up the activity with a set number of adults and children, students guess how many trips will have to be made...

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512 Paths to the White House Interactive Infographic for the Election #election2012

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, Government, Interactive Whiteboard, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 05-11-2012

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What it is: Tomorrow is Election day!  I couldn’t be more excited to see an end to the obnoxious political ads. Living in a swing state means that EVERY commercial I see is a political ad. At this point, all I have been convinced of is that the world may in fact be ending…the choices here are dire. One thing I am now passionate about: campaign reform. I digress.

512 Paths to the White House is a super cool interactive feature on the New York Times website.  Students can test out selecting a winner for the swing states and see the paths to victory available to either candidate.  Students can also mouse over the infographic and see what happens in the breakdown of each option.  According to the infographic, there are 5 paths to a tie.

How to integrate 512 Paths to the White House into the classroom: This really is a cool infographic to explore before the election.  Students can explore this infographic on classroom computers as an Election Day discovery center, as a class on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, or individually on computers.

This site makes a wonderful opening to discussion about the electoral college, the election process for the US, and why the swing states determine the outcome of the election.  At the bottom of the page, there are some specific scenarios for students to explore.  These scenarios also open up great conversations about economies in different states, beliefs of each party, political advertising, liberal vs. conservative states, etc.

In the secondary math class, students can explore probability, statistics and unpack the data offered here.  It is pretty interesting to see the paths each candidate has to winning based on who wins each battleground state.

Tips: Follow up on Wednesday, November 7th with how accurate the 512 Paths to the White House was.  Students can use this tool as they watch the election to predict who the winner will be.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  512 Paths to the White House in your classroom.

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Money Island: a financial literacy virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 08-02-2012

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What it is: Money Island is a neat site I found today while searching for some fun tie ins for our economic inquiry block at Anastasis.  This enchanting virtual world teaches students about money and how the economy works while they go on quests to destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Atlantis.  Students learn and practice the real-life principles of financial responsibility.  Students build knowledge and skills in three major areas including: saving and spending, earning and investing, and using credit wisely.  In addition to these major areas, students learn how to spend, grow and give money; the difference between wants, needs and taxes; different types of income; gain an understanding of interest; how to use credit wisely; and how to build wealth.
The site includes detailed lesson plans and activity suggestions for the classroom, as well as a specialized area within money island where teachers and parents can see what students are learning and track progress.
Money Island was created in partnership with the Young Americans Bank.  This bank was designed specifically for children under the age of 21!  Our students will be taking a field trip to the Young Americans Bank in Denver to continue their learning during this block.  If you are in the Denver area, it is a great field trip!
How to integrate Money Island into the classroom: Kids are not exposed to enough opportunities to learn and practice financial literacy.  Case in point: the national debt crisis, housing loan disaster, and credit card stats. It baffles me that we don’t spend more time in the classroom helping kids learn about money and finances!  Every teacher should take this on in some capacity, we can’t assume that someone else will teach it.  Kids need to learn about how the economy works prior to being neck deep in financial decisions on a daily basis.  Money Island is a fun introduction to all of this!
Students begin their journey in Money Island with a mission to help character Stone Broke.  Students choose a virtual side-kick who will guide them through Money Island and help them make important decisions.  Students are directed through a series of quests to help Stone Broke while learning about money and how to make sound financial decisions.
Money Island is a virtual world so it takes a bit of time to get all the way through it.  When students login, they are given a special key so they can pick up right where they left off in the game.  This is a great site for a one to one classroom environment or computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  The site could also be used as a center activity on classroom computers with students rotating through the center throughout the week.  Because students can save their progress, they can play from both school and from home.
Money Island makes a fantastic tie-in to a money or economics unit for kids.
***Hint: Click “Join” to join.  For some reason the “Play” button is a little bit temperamental.  It worked for me the first time I played with it but not the second…not sure what that is all about!
Tips:   There is a new game featured on Money Island…Episode 2 helps students learn how to “win” at the credit game.  There are also fun mini games and comics on the site for kids to interact with and explore!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Money Island in  your classroom!

MinyanLand: A virtual world for economics and finance

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-03-2011

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What it is: I love virtual worlds that go beyond just play and incorporate learning opportunities.  MinyanLand is a virtual world where students get to play games and make friends while they learn about earning, saving, spending and giving.  Best of all, it is free to use!  Students begin their time in MinyanLand with $50,000 in MinyanMoney and a condo.  They can visit the ATM in the MinyanLand bank to invest their money.  Each time students visit, they can check to see if their balance has gone up or down.  Students can earn more MinyanMoney by playing fun games, or doing real life chores or classroom jobs to collect a virtual allowance.   Students can  use their MinyanMoney to buy things for their home, add rooms, and move into a new neighborhood.

MinyanLand has it’s own newspaper called the MinyanLand Journal, it will keep students up-to-date with what is new every day.  Students can play games where they practice their math skills and test their knowledge about money.  Games include a Lemonade Stand, Guitar Mayhem, Paper Route, Concentration, Balloon Quiz, Fill in the Face, Fill in the Name, Catch the Money, Word Search, Money Sorter, Cluedoku, Boo Blvd., Where Did You Get That Money?, and Quiz Boxes.  Students will need to keep their virtual character healthy by fueling up at Ollie’s Diner.

The characters in MinyanLand are fun and varied, there is Hoofy the Bull, president of the bank; Boo the Bear, a retired dot-com millionaire; Daisy the cow, executive producer of MinyanLand’s TV station; Cassidy the Bear, a school teacher; Sammy the Snake, an administrator in City Hall; and Snapper the Turtle, the go-to guy in town.

MinyanLand is a fun way for students to learn about and interact with economic and financial concepts.  The economic system in MinyanLand can even take advantage of real-life pricing of general goods and services.  Students are encouraged to charitably give within MinyanLand.  The idea is to offer every child the opportunity and platform to be financially literate.   MinyanLand is ideal for students in 3rd-5th grade but younger students would enjoy it as well.

How to integrate MinyanLand into the classroom: MinyanLand is such a fun way to work toward financial literacy in the classroom.  It offers students a virtual economy where they can practice real-world skills of buying, earning, investing, and giving.  I love the way that MinyanLand ties the real world to the virtual by allowing students to earn virtual MinyanMoney for real chores and jobs.

Registering is free and easy enough for young students to register themselves.  A parent or teacher email address is optional for registration.  If students include a parent or teacher email address, they can earn MinyanMoney for chores or jobs that you assign.

MinyanLand is one of those sites that would be great as a year-long project.  Students can visit MinyanLand throughout the year in the classroom (and at home) to learn about money, investing, spending, earning, and the economy.  It is a natural fit in the math classroom where students are already working with money and numbers.  MinyanLand would be best in a lab setting where each student has access to a computer.  If you don’t have a lab for students, use classroom computers as a learning center.  Students can visit the center throughout the week to interact in MinyanLand.

Tips: Even if you don’t want to use the virtual money in class, consider letting parents know about the opportunity to tie household chores to learning.  Students can play in class and earn virtual money at home.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using MinyanLand in your classroom!

Rags to Riches

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Fun & Games, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Websites | Posted on 05-07-2010

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What it is: Rags to Riches takes Lemonade Tycoon to a whole new level with simulated business.  In Rags to Riches, students are working to make their band a success.  Students play the part of a new band going on tour with a few new songs.  As they play the Rags to Riches game simulation, students must make decisions about what the band should do.  They have to decide which cities are best for them to play in, what venues to play, how much money to spend on publicity and how much to charge for tickets.  Students start out with $100 and must make wise decisions to continue in the simulation.  When they run out of money, the game ends and they must start again.

How to integrate Rags to Riches into the classroom: If you teach students like mine, breaking out Lemonade Tycoon in the classroom is met by cheers from some and with eye rolls by others who are “way too cool” for a lemonade stand.  For those students, Rags to Riches is in order.  The premise of the game is the same, but instead of selling lemonade, students are working to take their band to super star status.  This is a great game for teaching students about business, economics, and money.  This game is really best played in a computer lab setting where each student has access to their own computer, but if you don’t have that luxury, it could also be played as a class with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  If you are playing as a class, give each student a roll in the band and set up rules together about how business decisions will be made.  After the simulation, come together as a class and talk about what decisions had the best outcomes and which led to downfalls.

Tips: Don’t hit your back button while you are in the simulation or your game will start over.  This is an important tip to pass on to students!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Rags to Riches in your classroom.

Track My T

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Fun & Games, Geography, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 19-11-2009

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What it is: Track My T is a truly impressive website that I learned about from @dianadell on Twitter. Track my T lets students type in the unique lot number on their t-shirt and then go through an amazing interactive journey tracking their t-shirt from its very beginning as a cotton seed on a farm, to every step before they bought it.  Students can track their actual t-shirt or choose a random t-shirt to follow.  On their journey students will learn about picking cotton, the cotton gin, yarn spinners, textile mills, cut and sew factories, and distribution centers.  This is an incredible journey that teaches students the process that goods go through before they end up in the local store.  Each stop on the journey includes video, images, and information about what happens during that part of the t-shirt creation process.  In addition, students will learn about and encounter historical figures like Eli Whitney.  At the end of the journey students can check out their custom T tag, learn more about the screen printing process, and learn how to reduce their carbon footprint.

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How to integrate Track My T into the classroom: Track My T is an amazing site.  From beginning to end your students will be engaged and enthralled with this website.  The ability to track their actual t-shirt is really something!  Use this activity as a whole class with an interactive whiteboard, as a center activity in the classroom, or individually in the computer lab setting.  As a follow up activity, have students put placemarks on a Google Earth map on the location where their t-shirt/pants/shoes were made.  This activity could easily be expanded to the geography classroom (perfect for national geography week which is this week!).  Students could do additional research about the country where their t-shirt originated from.  To expand the activity even more, have students Tweet about their findings, see if they can get a response from someone that lives in that country.


Tips: Be sure to take a look at the accompanying lesson plan on Track My T.  The lesson teaches students all about fair trade.

Leave a comment and share how you are using Track My T  in your classroom.

Two unfortunate economic downturns…

Posted by admin | Posted in General | Posted on 27-03-2009

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The economy is definitely touching everyone.  Unfortunately in the past week it has negatively impacted two of my favorite web tools for the classroom. :(   Lookybook announced this week that due in part to the failing economy they have had to call it quits.  You can read more about the reasons behind their shutting down here.   Gcast also announced a need to go to a paid subscription for their phone podcasting service.  It will now cost $99 to use Gcast.  :(

Lookybook was an incredible resource for classrooms because it offered a classroom library of picture books for free.  Hopefully another company will come along and work on bringing this idea back to life.

Gcast is a loss for sure, I loved using it as a place where students, teachers, and parents could create podcasts  without a computer.  It was very easy to use for those teachers and parents who were apprehensive to podcast via computer but willing to do it by phone.

There is another service that offers free phone podcasting.  Gabcast is a podcast over the phone service.  Gabcast is free to use and allows you to upload your audio files to a blog, website, or publish to iTunes.

Read my original posts on all of these websites below:

Lookybook

Gcast

Gabcast